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Inside Baseball

The Bottom Half

August 12, 2007

Looking back

Larry Doby, who played 10 of his 13 seasons for the Indians from 1947 to '59, was the first black player in the American League. He's not as well known as Jackie Robinson for breaking color barriers, but Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter said Doby is no less significant. "He went through all the same things that Jackie Robinson did, only in the AL," Jeter said Friday, when the Indians recognized the 60th anniversary of Doby's major league debut by having all their players wear his uniform No. 14. "It's great to see him getting honored."

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Looking ahead

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice will announce Monday that she has tabbed recently inducted Hall of Fame member Cal Ripken Jr. as special sports envoy to the State Department. His mission: Promote baseball around the world. "He will reach out to a worldwide audience of young people while visiting their schools and clubs, hosting baseball skills clinics, and sharing the keys to his success: character, hard work and perseverance," the department said in a statement. Ripken's first trip will be to China this fall.

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It's a fact

Rick Ankiel's three-run home run Thursday night was his first in the major leagues since April 26, 2000. According to research by home run expert David Vincent, it was the longest stretch between home runs since Rafael Belliard went 10 years from 1987 to '97. Ankiel, a pitcher in 2000, played his first big league game as an outfielder Thursday. He homered twice more on Saturday against the Dodgers.

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Minor league report

ANGELS IN THE MINORS

FREDDY SANDOVAL, 3B

Arkansas; double A

A fourth-round draft pick out of the University of San Diego in 2004, Sandoval is blossoming in his third season as a professional. He's batting .308 with 10 home runs, 65 runs batted in and 18 stolen bases, already surpassing his career highs in those categories. The key has been an improved batting eye. He has walked 58 times with 66 strikeouts in 108 games after a 59/98 ratio in 112 games last season. The Tijuana, Mexico, native is coming off a phenomenal July, during which he batted .366 with four home runs, 22 RBIs and five stolen bases. He was also selected to play for the World team in the Futures Game during All-Star weekend.

WARNER MADRIGAL, P

Cedar Rapids; Class A

Madrigal, 23, was an All-Star outfielder in the Pioneer League after batting .369 with nine home runs for Provo in 2003, but lost his swing as he moved up the minor leagues and converted to pitching 30 games into last season when he was batting .235. He is 5-3 with 13 saves and a 2.25 ERA for the Kernels. He has 62 strikeouts and has walked only 20 in 52 innings and opponents are batting .211 against him. He has given up only one run in his last 25 innings. In his last 10 appearances, he's 1-0 with seven saves and an 0.77 ERA. He has 13 strikeouts in those 11 1/3 innings and has given up only five hits and one walk.

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One up, one down

Who's on the rise; who's slumping:

FIRST BASE

* Up: Prince Fielder, Milwaukee -- He's not just hitting the ball out, he's hitting it way out.

* Down: Mike Jacobs, Florida -- He's two for his last 42 and was 0 for 33 at one point during that stretch.

SECOND BASE

* Up: Luis Castillo, New York Mets -- Batting .325 since his trade to New York; .478 the last week.

* Down: Ray Durham, San Francisco -- Batting .162 with one home run since the All-Star break.

THIRD BASE

* Up: Alex Rodriguez, New York Yankees -- At this rate, he might hit 500 more before he's through.

* Down: Troy Glaus, Toronto -- His two hits Saturday were two more than he had since August began.

SHORTSTOP

* Up: Felipe Lopez, Washington -- Five of his nine home runs have come since July 21.

* Down: Stephen Drew, Arizona -- Trying to show brother J.D. what a low batting average really looks like.

OUTFIELD

* Up: Rick Ankiel, St. Louis -- Now when they say high and deep, they aren't talking about his pitches.

* Down: Jay Payton, Baltimore -- A three-for-32 August has dropped his average 19 points since All-Star break.

CATCHER

* Up: Dioner Navarro, Tampa Bay -- Hasn't batted over .200 all season, but all of a sudden he's Johnny Bench.

* Down: Jason Varitek, Boston -- The wear and tear of being an ironman seems to be catching up with him.

PITCHER

* Up: Tim Hudson, Atlanta -- It has been a few years, but he's back in the Cy Young Award conversation.

* Down: Eric Gagne, Boston -- Not a fan of chowder: Has a 16.20 earned-run average since joining the Red Sox.

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